AMES, Iowa – The Iowa State volleyball program announced the addition of one of the nation’s top signing classes for the 2015 season Thursday. The Cyclones have signed five student-athletes in the November signing period. Among the additions are two top-35 recruits in Hannah Bailey of Cameron, Wisconsin, and Remi Bowman of Greenville, Indiana, one of the United Kingdom’s top young players in Grace Lazard of London and two top in-state prospects in Hali Hillegas from Charles City and Abigail Phillips of Marion.
“I really love this class,” head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said. “Recruiting coordinator Jon Newman-Gonchar did a terrific job of finding a great mix of players that are talented and competitive. It’s pretty exciting to think about adding these players to our returning team next year. They will be a tremendous addition to an already talented team.”
Bailey is a left-handed rightside hitter that was ranked as the No. 33 prospect in the country by PrepVolleyball.com. A 2014-15 AVCA/Under Armour Second-Team All-American, Bailey finished her senior season with 329 kills at a .536 hitting percentage for Cameron High School, the second-straight year she hit over .500 after hitting .504 as a junior with 5.5 kills per set. Her high school career saw Bailey earn four first-team all-conference honors. Bailey played club volleyball for Minnesota Select out of Maple Grove, Minn.
“Hannah has wanted to be a part of our program since she attended camp her sophomore year,” Johnson-Lynch noted. “She is exactly the type of player we love to get, a great athlete with a ton of potential. Hannah is going to be a big time player, a great right side hitter and blocker. I’ve seen her dominate offensively almost every time I’ve watched her play. She’s also got a fun, upbeat personality that is infectious. ”
Bowman was one of the most sought-after setters in the country, checking in at No. 22 in PrepVolleyball.com’s Class of 2015 rankings. Bowman joins former Cyclone All-American setter Alison Landwehr as the highest-ranked signees in ISU history, with Landwehr also checking in at No. 22 back in 2010. Bowman helped lead Floyd Central High School to multiple conference and semi-state appearances in her career. Bowman dished out 8.9 assists per set as a senior while also posting 2.3 digs per set and 42 service aces. A three-time All-State selection and a 2014-15 AVCA/Under Armour Honorable Mention All-American, Bowman plays her club ball for MidAmerica Volleyball Association.
“Remi will arrive very well trained and very experienced,” Johnson-Lynch stated. “She has all the attributes coaches hope to find in a setter – she’s a wonderful leader and competitor, great volleyball IQ, and a great athlete. She will also come in as the most offensive setter we’ve had. She’s hard working, diligent, dedicated and humble. Remi wants to continue her development as an elite setter, I believe we are the perfect fit for each other.”
Lazard is Iowa State head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch’s first international signee during her ISU tenure. A middle blocker from the Croydon borough of London, Lazard has made 15 appearances for England’s Junior National Teams, which includes being England’s leading scorer at the 2013 Youth Volleyball European Championship. After playing her club ball for the Croydon Volleyball Club and Polonia Volleyball Club, Lazard spent a year at the LeAF Academy in Bournemouth, England. Lazard is also an accomplished sand volleyball player, having made her senior national team debut on the sand for England in September.
“Grace is one of the best players in her age group in England,” Johnson-Lynch said. “She is a very physical middle blocker, but also has the ball handling skills to play leftside. She’s an elite athlete, one of the best we’ve recruited to Iowa State. The most impressive thing about Grace is how hard she has worked to make her dream of playing in the U.S. happen. She’s a special young woman who will flourish both on and off the court at Iowa State.”
Hillegas (pronounced HILL-uh-giss) has been a jack of all trades for the Comets of Charles City during her high school career. Heading into this week’s state tournament, Hillegas ranks second on Charles City with 2.90 kills per set at a .435 hitting percentage, leads the team with 62 aces and 5.69 assists per set and is second with 2.40 digs per set. A two-time all-state, all-conference and all-tournament team honoree, Hillegas recorded 9.60 assists per set en route to helping CCHS to a state title as a sophomore. Hillegas and fellow Cyclone signee Abigail Phillips were members of the Club Iowa Association team that won the USA 17 division at the 2014 Junior Girls National Championships, going 10-0 at the event. Hillegas was named tournament MVP.
“Hali reminds me a lot of Monique Harris – she can do it all,” Johnson-Lynch said. She is a great ball handler, great setter and a great hitter. She understands the game very well, and is a ton of fun to watch. Every time I watch her play I am amazed at her ability to impact the game in every skill. She plays much bigger and higher than just about any 5’6” player I have seen.”
Phillips is a three-time all-conference honoree while playing libero for Marion High School. Phillips has amassed over 1,800 digs in her high school career, helping her team with multiple conference championships and make a trip to the 2014 Iowa High School State Volleyball Tournament. Phillips is an accomplished player at club level, having played for multiple clubs while currently teaming with Hillegas at Club Iowa Association. The 2014 Junior Girls National Championship Phillips won was her second, having won in 2012 with Iowa Rockets in the 15 National division while also earning a third-place in 2011 in the 14 National division and a runner-up in the 16 Open division in 2013.
“Abby will continue our tradition of elite liberos and defensive players at Iowa State,” Johnson-Lynch noted. “She has a great platform and a knack for getting the ball to target. She is smooth, fast, and smart and has that unique combination of elite passing and ball handling that we look for. Abby has always shown a great love of Iowa State and our program, and she has worked incredibly hard to make this happen.”
The Cyclones will continue to keep its recruiting open with an eye on making more additions for the class of 2015 in April, when the signing window re-opens. Iowa State’s current squad is again in action Saturday when it takes on TCU at 4 p.m. inside Hilton Coliseum.